Friday, March 7, 2008

Flying Houseboat -- Debacle Oft Repeated in Other Forms!

The Caproni Ca-60 Transaereo 'Capronisimo'
Circa 1921

[Source: The World's Worst Aircraft
- published by Dorset Press, 1990]

Count Caproni had developed a reputation in World War I years for building large wartime aircraft. His warplanes were the largest ever built outside of Tsarist Russia. His company had built at least 400 or more of the huge bombers which eventually evolved to machines with wingspans of 72 feet and carrying half-ton bombs. As the war ended an even larger plane was built -- a tri-wing model with a gross weight of 8 tons and wingspan of 100 feet!

After the war the Count had a dream -- building a huge aircraft with a capacity for many passengers and the capability of flying to New York. What you see pictured above is the Count's dream plane after completion and ready for a test flight at Lake Maggiore in Italy. This was about 4,000 miles east of New York City -- the city to which the plane, if it can be called that, was to fly.

The cabin was essentially a converted houseboat with room for 100 passengers. To compensate for all the weight three tri-wings were mounted on the top of the boat. From tip to tip they measured 98 feet. To lift this monster which weighed 55,000 pounds off the water, eight American-built 400 hp Liberty V-12 engines were installed.

Finally the big day arrived on March 4, 1921 -- test flight time for Count Caproni's "dream machine!" The 8 engines with their 3,200 hp managed to get this thing into the air by an altitude of all of 60 feet or so -- then things went south in a hurry -- the ballast scudded into the nose -- the center wing section crumpled and the once mighty "Capronisimo" tumbled back into the lake in a pile of splintered kindling wood! As a result of this fiasco, Caproni and his company faded into oblivion never so much as producing a little balsa wood glider with a wing span of 15 inches which can be flown by an eight-year-old child!

Great lesson here but does anyone want to learn from it? Two areas in our culture at times greatly resemble the Count's houseboat with wings -- government and church!

Just something to think about as you picture the "Capronisimo" and then look at Washington DC. The federal government has expanded constantly over time until it is top heavy with committees, agencies, bureaus and departments -- it's been at times too much like a melanoma raging on and killing the body where it resides! The latest malignancy to spring up in the "land of the free and the home of the brave" is a thing called the Department of Homeland Security. A recent report indicates that this thing takes up space and spends millions of dollars but has not really accomplished much of anything by way of substance -- stopping terrorists and terrorism? How, when they can step across the borders in the southwest or the north and then plan to do their thing!

And the church? Let's take a major mainline such as the United Methodist Church -- I picked that one because I am somewhat familiar with it. For years now it has been hemorrhaging -- tens of thousands of members lost each year for decades. It prides itself on its "diversity" -- translated to reality this means simply that you can believe (or not believe) about anything you want to and be considered a good United Methodist in good standing! Now that will be denied by some, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating -- church leaders have gone on record as expressing "beliefs" which are diametrically opposed to the clear revelation given to us by Almighty God in His inspired Word!

So, just as with the federal government, we have committees, boards and agencies of all kinds with "requirements" for these in terms of "quotas" -- so many of gender, age and ethnic mix so that nobody will feel "marginalized!"

I have in my possession an 1856 Discipline of the Methodist Church which measures about 3 inches wide, 5 to 6 inches high and about 1/2 inch or less thick. UMC Disciplines now measure at least an inch or more in thickness, 9 1/4 inches long and over 6 inches wide!

Now here's the "kicker" -- back in those days of that little 1856 Discipline God was blessing wonderfully and the church was expanding -- those circuit riders were preaching God's Word faithfully (and they actually believed it too!) and sinners were being converted. They then became members of that growing church which was identified as Methodist!

Now we have a Discipline that resembles the Caproni Ca-60 "Capronisimo" in more ways than we want to admit! And how about that "growth" thing that everybody talks about? And how many million have we dropped from that big merger in 1968?

Where there is unity of mind, heart and purpose God is pleased to bless -- the book of Acts demonstrates that ever so dramatically! Really, folks, there are no options when it comes to the following:

  • full agreement on

    • Who Jesus really is
    • What Jesus came into this world to do
    • Where Jesus is now
    • What Jesus plans to do at some future point in time about this world

  • the source of and authority of the holy Scriptures -- do they address all aspects of human behavior and relationships -- do they truly reveal that outside of Jesus Christ there is no hope for the future, both for time and eternity!

Get a large group of theologians, seminary professors and preachers in the same room and start dealing with the above issues -- then see what happens -- it will begin to resemble a bunch of tomcats thrown over a clothesline with their tails tied together!

So far as government and far too many church denominations are concerned, Count Caproni lives on -- his creations just don't have a cumbersome houseboat attached to three sets of tri-wings, but the results are the same!

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." --- Jesus in Matthew 7:21-27


Pamela said...

Welcome to the blogroll! By the way, you can edit your profile and eliminate the year and sign part by just not filling them in. I was oppositional enough to ignore them and my blog profile posted anyway.As a visual thinker your flying machine as a metaphor for the church is now firmly imbedded in my head. It is fitting and appropriate. Would that we would all seek after the things that are above in unity of the Holy Spirit, not power, position, posture, standing or natural tendencies. I say Amen to your article.

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